Friday, June 23, 2006


The Kite Runner, my first audio book

My parents were never so 'cool' to read out books to me when I was a kid. Never in the past has someone read out a book to me, for most of my friends and family members did not know that such a thing ever existed.

So, the first time I heard someone read out a book to me was the audio version of 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini. I randomly picked one of Crossword bookstores’ bestsellers and searched for the title on my library homepage when the audio book link appeared. The process thereafter was very simple. Click on the link, download the audio file to my system and start listening. And I did the same, without delay.

The story is about Amir, a wealthy businessman's son and his soulmate and servant Hassan. Amir and Hassan spend their childhood together in Kabul, Afghanistan. Amir, a physically weak boy with no athletic abilities takes pleasure in literature, books, reading and creative writing. Amir adopts a bossy attitude with Hassan, despite the strength of their friendship. Hassan, on the other hand, is loyal, intelligent and strong, whose loyalty for Amir's family is unquestionable. This friendship is torn because of Amir's act of betrayal and his guilt thereof. The war in Afghanistan forces Amir and his father to flee Kabul for a life in the US.

After years of struggle to achieve a comfortable life in the US, Amir goes back to his hometown, now stained with blood and mutilated bodies to redress his wrongdoing and regain his self-esteem. Hosseini's description of Afghanistan from the days of monarchy to the present day of war and destruction serves as an interesting backdrop for the story.

The voice that read out the book expressed appropriate emotions with the lines, lending additional accuracy to the parallel imagination running in my mind. At times, the Urdu words used in the book, like 'jaan' as in 'baba jaan', 'Amir jaan' was pronounced by the reader as 'john' which made me think that Amir's dad's name was John, which didn't make sense to me until I heard the word again in association with another person and understood its right meaning.
There is lack of personal touch when you hear a book, for often I mark the book with my pencils and reread the paragraphs I enjoyed the most before putting the book down. Further, improving our vocabulary with the audio version of a book is far fetched, as you don't feel like pausing the flow of the story to look up a dictionary. Navigating and positioning the file from the point I left it in the previous session is another painful thing to do. In all, I would say, an audio book is a different experience than reading a book but not a better one. May be, I would use an audio book when I want to have read a book, but don't want to read it.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Nail cutters

The government in Rajasthan is distributing free education kits to students. Besides textbooks, pencils, erasers, geometry boxes and note books, the kit will also include nail cutters. I applaud the Education Minister's kind consideration. Clap, clap. Let's leave them alone.

On an entirely different note, I am a deeply religious person, which means, the number of my visits to the temple is marginally more than the average number of visits of a person with the same parameters(age, sex and background) as mine. For bloggers who hail from Chennai, I need not elaborate on the beauty and magnificence of Parthasarathy temple. For others, a google search would help:) The historical and architectural marvel of Parthasarathy temple is very special, as much as its tasty puliyodharai(tamarind rice) is. Puliyodharai is sold at a place called 'madapalli' inside the temple premises which you may or may not want to buy after taking a closer look at the mama's long and dirty finger nails.

Yeah, you got the correlation between nail cutters and my religious beliefs. In my opinion, if there is one class of population that needs the nail cutters more than the students, it is the temple archakars/purohits/pujaris/priests. While, the choice of buying 'puliyodharai' can be exercised in the case I mentioned, there is no choice when it comes to accepting the free prasadam. For a person with less than average belief in religious sentiments, I see no problem. He accepts the prasadam, then trashes it and walks away peacefully. But, for a person with my belief system, it hardly works that way. I am caught right in between a triangular mental struggle, assuming sin of trashing the prasadam, relishing the tasty puliyodharai and looking at mama's finger nails with imaginary magnifying glasses. Their nails have a distinct colour, born from a mixture of turmeric, tamarind, oil, tulsi and rose petals. No amount of cajoling is going to make me buy an argument that it is a healthy concoction. Thennavan, out of his love for anything ‘Chennai’ assures me that it is this harmless combination that lends taste to the ‘Parthasarathy kovil’ puliyodharai. But, I stand by my statement - 'The mamas need nail cutters.' Even if Sowmya publishes research papers on Thennavan's statement, I still won't buy the proof. Please, they need nail cutters!

I wish I could say ‘the other casement’ wrote the post, for I am afraid what ill-luck will befall me for offending Lord Parthasarathy. But, on second thoughts, I feel, if He were to comment on my blog, He would vouch that the mamas indeed need nail cutters.

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